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New studies reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2017 in London are providing new clues on Alzheimer’s early detection, the disease’s underlying causes, and factors that may impact a person's dementia risk, such as sleep and diet.

Despite these compelling findings, there is still so much we do not know about this devastating and fatal disease. Today, Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death in the U.S. without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. Barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow, or stop Alzheimer’s, the number of Americans with the disease will triple by mid-century.

Today there are 180,000 Michiganians living with Alzheimer’s and that number is projected to reach 220,000 by 2025. After losing my mother to Alzheimer’s last year, I know firsthand how critical this research is to improving quality of life for those with dementia, as well as finding ways to prevent people from ever developing it.

My mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s when she was 54 years old. The disease has been devastating to our family. During my mom’s 12 year journey with Alzheimer’s, I witnessed the impact it had on our entire family. My mom and dad were high school sweethearts and married for 46 years. They dreamed of a retirement that included traveling to Italy. Instead, my dad worked tirelessly taking care of my mom, often sacrificing his own health and wellness to ensure that my mom’s increasing needs were being met.

As is clear from the research and theories presented by leading scientists at AAIC 2017: There is no shortage of ideas, only dollars, for addressing Alzheimer’s and its devastating impact. That is why the Alzheimer’s Association is appealing to Congress to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health by at least $414 million in fiscal year 2018.

Please join me in asking your local congressman for their commitment in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

Lisa Aragon

board member, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter

of the Alzheimer’s Association

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